Much to see in Mesilla

With art, wineries, and markets, a tiny New Mexico town now has more than history
Maria Finn

Once host to such legends as Billy the Kid and Pancho Villa, historic Old Mesilla in southern New Mexico has always relied on its storied past to attract visitors.

More and more, though, folks from neighboring Las Cruces and beyond are finding themselves drawn to Mesilla's charming adobe buildings, colorful open-air markets, and boutiques showcasing the handiwork of local artists.

Fall is a happening time in these parts, where, just outside of town, you can hop on horseback and explore the rugged nature of the valley ― and afterward, stop at the wineries to enjoy its more refined side.

GETTING THERE

From I-25 south, take 1-10 west to Mesilla exit 140. Visit www.oldmesilla.org for more info.

 

EAT

Double Eagle Restaurant. Enjoy a Sunday champagne brunch on the sunny bougainvillea-lined patio. $$$; 2355 Calle de Guadalupe, on Mesilla Plaza; 505/523-6700.

The Bean of Mesilla. Start the day with a "Good Morning" muffin and a mug of house-roasted coffee. 2011 Avenida de Mesilla; 505/523-0560.

GO

Horseshoe Stable. Ride past cotton fields and up to desert mesas that open to views of the Franklin Mountains. $25 per person, per hour; 924 Gato Rd., El Paso, TX; 915/373-0101.

SHOP

Mesilla Arts and Crafts Market. Don't miss the plaza's outdoor market where local artists showcase everything from desert landscape photography to jewelry to ceramics. Thu 11-4, Sun 12-4; at intersection of Calle de Guadalupe and Calle de Parian; 505/523-4896.

 

DRINK

La Viña Winery. One of several wineries along the 28-mile, pecan farm-lined Don Juan de Oñate Trail. Pull into La Viña for tasting ($3) ― and a grape stomp at the winery's Harvest Festival, Oct 21-22 ($10). 4201 S. State 28, La Union, NM; 505/882-7632; www.lavinawinery.com.

Zin Valle Vineyards. Sip the signature Zinfandel among rows of grapevines. 7315 State 28, Canutillo, TX; www.zinvalle.com or 915/877-4544.

STAY OVERNIGHT

Meson de Mesilla. Enjoy a view of the Organ Mountains, in-room kiva fireplaces, outdoor swimming pool, and a gourmet breakfast in the atrium at the Meson de Mesilla (from $65; 800/732-6025) ― a 15-room boutique hotel in historic Mesilla.